Vegetables Innovator

Kramer’s anthropological views on transformation in horticulture

Monday, 20 May 2019

Our industry is in the midst of an important transformation. The green thumb is still very important and a distinguishing factor for growers’ success currently, but technology is taking over. Some of our most advanced professionals are eager to prove that. Keen scientists and talented growers are uncovering the secrets of the green ‘fingerspitzengefühl’ and translate its essence bit by bit into bits and bytes.

Data, big data are everything. Sensors measure every slight change in the growing environment, and based on data they generate, new technical systems are improving. Robots are machine-learning to do all kinds of jobs better than us, the people. Slowly but surely, they are taking over. Job by job.

Will we be necessary for growing crops in the future? This question inspires both excitement and fear. Excitement about new possibilities and adventures and about a growing possibility to feed the growing world population. With new technology, we do; what we thought was impossible . And there comes the fear. What if rapidly increasing artificial intelligence makes robots powerful beyond human understanding? Our fear is caused; by future possibilities that we cannot overlook today, that threatens our sense of safety, our sense of security, and our jobs. Most of us are not that adventurous after all. We like to know what’s going on and what will happen tomorrow. Many of us like the current rhythm and routine. And we are comfortable to continue in the way ‘how things work’ right now. Why change what’s good? But technology brings change to our industry and ourselves. It changes how we communicate and how we understand our crops. Technology helps to rationalize our intuition and experience.

The shift towards technology marks a shift from intuitive understanding to rational understanding. The transformation from ‘the green thumb’ to ‘databased growing’. With technology, we do not need to be nearby anymore to communicate, we; depend on ‘a good digital connection’ for better understanding. Fortunately, that digital connection is improving every day. However, the lack of touch, smell, direct vision and hearing, takes a lot of non-verbal communication away. And those non-verbal communication lines have always been essential for building trust, which is essential for effective collaboration. In an increasingly digital age, it is important to have a better understanding of what it takes to build trust in each other and in our new technology.

This is Jitske Kramer’s passion. Jitske is a corporate anthropologist and an exceptionally talented speaker and storyteller. She visits and researches tribes all over the world and specializes in human interaction, collaboration and transformation. In her keynote during GreenTech 2019, she will focus on transformation, building trust and staying human.

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